Rights of Passage

We all go through them—those little (or NOT so little) agents of change. These “Rites of Passage” bring us from one season of life to another, from one stage of development to another, from one comfort zone to what will be, eventually, another comfort zone.

Nobody really enjoys change. I once heard it said that the only person who really thinks change is good is a baby with a wet diaper, and he or she will still frequently cry through the whole process. We resist change, yet it happens, whether we like it or not. These “Rites of Passage” are not optional. They are a part of growing, a part of moving to the next level in our lives, a part of stepping closer to the place where God wants us to be.

Such was the case on that fateful Friday evening, when my daughter was forced to say goodbye to a dear and beloved friend who she loved as dearly as she has ever loved anything. Her very first car, an 83 Toyota Tercel, affectionately known as “Twinkie,” so named because it was the color of a Hostess Twinkie, complete with white filling (my daughter), and in her words “is about the age of the shelf life of a Hostess Twinkie.”

Earlier in the week, Twinkie died of heart failure. His little 4-cylinder heart just plain threw a rod and quit unexpectedly, leaving his loved ones to grieve his passing and find an acceptable depository for his remains.

Twinkie was a work of art. My daughter decorated him, inside and out, with bumper stickers and special memorabilia like the “Goofy” handle that broke off from her favorite umbrella, and was attached to the dashboard with silicone glue in the same spot where a devout Catholic might have a statue of their favorite saint, or of the Virgin Mary. The Bumper stickers were a source of insight into her wonderful, complex, creative mind and soul that I have come to respect so very much. Some were subtle, like the Vintage Vinyl sticker on her (Vinyl) dashboard. Some were markers of special memories, like the one from Ted Drews in St. Louis, home of the “concrete,” and maker of the best frozen custard in the whole world. Others spoke to her faith: “Eternity… smoking or non-smoking?” Others addressed her non-political political positions: “Don’t blame me, I voted for Elvis” (thank ya… thank ya very much), or “Picard/Riker ’96.” Her favorite sticker of all was on her door: “Destined for Greatness… but pacing myself.”

Many of those stickers were just plain fun, like the one over her gas filler, that said “Have a Day,” with a yellow “smiley face” with a straight line for a mouth, or “I do whatever my Rice Crispies tell me to,” or “Don’t WANNA think!” We used to really get a kick out of watching people reading Twinkie in the parking lot, or as they drove down the highway. It really WAS a special work of art.

I allowed my mourning daughter her have a few moments alone at the impound lot to say goodbye to her friend (my special thanks to the Arkansas State Police for towing the thing before I had a chance to, and for the towing and storage bill that’s about $15 more than the salvage value. Nice work, Guys.). She tried to peel off some of the stickers, with mixed success… got her dashboard art… and a few other pieces of memorabilia like the nameplate from the back hatch and front grille, and a complete seat belt buckle. (Somehow, I think she’ll be creating a piece of “Twinkie Memorial” artwork before too long). I got the brand-new battery (at this price, the salvage yard can’t have it!), and later on I went back to pull the radio and the carburetor—we’re big believers in organ donation, and know of recipients that needed them. Finally, daughter said her last goodbye, walking away with her head hanging low and a tear in her eye, and we proceeded to the funeral supper at her favorite pizza shop, where we had her favorite, Canadian Bacon and Pineapple, washed down with a Surge.

It was a sad, hurtful day for this tender-hearted daughter of mine. It was a Rite of Passage that won’t soon be forgotten.

Of course, with closure of the old, comes opening of the new—a new canvas, a new work of art, a new creation. Twinkie’s replacement will become a new, different, special work of art. Like any true artist, my daughter will let the canvas dictate the painting, rather than the artist. Whatever this new canvas needs to be, she will create it. One day, the sorrow that she felt so heavily on that sad Friday will be turned to joy and expectation as the new work in progress begins to take form. So it is with all of us as we face our Rites of Passage.

The Disciples went through some rough times over that three days between Jesus’ death and resurrection—times of confusion, fear, and uncertainty. Their Rite of Passage actually was prolonged all the way to the day of Pentecost, when they received the power that they needed to move into the next phase of their adventure of following Christ.

They came through their Rite of Passage, Just as my daughter is coming through hers, and just as YOU will come through YOURS. God’s not done yet. Hang in there with expectation, watching for His hand as he carries you from closure of the old to the birth of the new—through YOUR “Rite of Passage.”

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